Browse the listing below to find government information for Spain, including flags, leaders,
and constitution information. Factrover also has complete information on Spain at its
Spain Country Page.
Type: Constitutional monarchy (Juan Carlos I proclaimed King November 22, 1975).
Branches: Executive--President of government nominated by monarch, subject to approval by democratically elected Congress of Deputies. Legislative--Bicameral Cortes: a 350-seat Congress of Deputies (elected by the d'Hondt system of proportional representation) and a Senate. Four senators are elected in each of 47 peninsular provinces, 16 are elected from the three island provinces, and Ceuta and Melilla elect two each; this accounts for 208 senators. The parliaments of the 17 autonomous regions also elect one senator as well as one additional senator for every 1 million inhabitants within their territory (about 20 senators). Judicial--Constitutional Tribunal has jurisdiction over constitutional issues. Supreme Tribunal heads system comprising territorial, provincial, regional, and municipal courts.
Subdivisions: 47 peninsular and three island provinces; two enclaves on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco (Ceuta and Melilla) and three island groups along that coast--Alhucemas, Penon de Velez de la Gomera, and the Chafarinas Islands.
Political parties: Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), Popular Party (PP), and the United Left (IU) coalition. Key regional parties are the Convergence and Union (CIU) in Catalonia and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) in the Basque country.
Government of Spain
Parliamentary democracy was restored following the death of General Franco in 1975, who had ruled since the end of the civil war in 1939. The 1978 constitution established Spain as a parliamentary monarchy, with the Prime Minister responsible to the bicameral Cortes elected every 4 years. On February 23, 1981, rebel elements among the security forces seized the Cortes and tried to impose a military-backed government. However, the great majority of the military forces remained loyal to King Juan Carlos, who used his personal authority to put down the bloodless coup attempt.
In October 1982, the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), led by Felipe Gonzalez Marquez, swept both the Congress of Deputies and Senate, winning an absolute majority. Gonzalez and the PSOE ruled for the next 13 years. During that period, Spain joined NATO and the European Community.
In March 1996, Jose Maria Aznar's Popular Party (PP) won a plurality of votes. Aznar moved to decentralize powers to the regions and liberalize the economy, with a program of privatizations, labor market reform, and measures designed to increase competition in selected markets, principally telecommunications. During Aznar's first term, Spain fully integrated into European institutions, qualifying for the European Monetary Union. During this period, Spain participated, along with the United States and other NATO allies, in military operations in the former Yugoslavia. Spanish planes took part in the air war against Serbia in 1999, and Spanish armed forces and police personnel are included in the international peacekeeping forces in Bosnia and Kosovo.
In a landslide victory, President Aznar and the PP won reelection in March 2000, obtaining absolute majorities in both houses of parliament. This mandate has allowed Aznar to form a government unencumbered by the coalition building that characterized his earlier administration. Aznar is a staunch supporter of transatlantic relations and the War on Terrorism. Elections will be held in March 2004, and Aznar has named First Vice President Mariano Rajoy to replace him as the Popular Party candidate.
The 1978 constitution authorized the creation of regional autonomous governments. By 1985, 17 regions covering all of peninsular Spain, the Canaries, and the Balearic Islands had negotiated autonomy statutes with the central government. In 1979, the first autonomous elections were held in the Basque and Catalan regions, which have the strongest regional traditions by virtue of their history and separate languages. Since then, autonomous governments have been created in the remainder of the 17 regions. The central government continues to devolve powers to the regional governments, which will eventually have full responsibility for health care and education, as well as other social programs.
The Government of Spain is involved in a long-running campaign against Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA), a terrorist organization founded in 1959 and dedicated to promoting Basque independence. ETA targets primarily Spanish security forces, military personnel, and Spanish Government officials. The group has carried out numerous bombings against Spanish Government facilities and economic targets, including a car bomb assassination attempt on then-opposition leader Aznar in 1995, in which his armored car was destroyed but he was unhurt. The Spanish Government attributes over 800 deaths to ETA terrorism since its campaign of violence began. In recent years, the government has had more success in controlling ETA, due in part to increased security cooperation with French authorities.
In November 1999, ETA ended a cease-fire it declared in September 1998. Since that time, ETA has conducted a campaign of violence and has been blamed for the deaths of some 46 Spanish citizens and officials. Each attack has been followed by massive anti-ETA demonstrations around the country, clearly demonstrating that the majority of Spaniards, including the majority of Spain's Basque populace, have no tolerance for continued ETA violence. The government continues to pursue vigorous counterterrorist policy.
Spain also contends with a resistance group, commonly known as GRAPO. GRAPO is an urban terrorist group that seeks to overthrow the Spanish Government and establish a Marxist state. It opposes Spanish participation in NATO and U.S. presence in Spain and has a long history of assassinations, bombings, and kidnappings mostly against Spanish interests during the 1970s and 1980s.
In a June 2000 communiqué following the explosions of two small devices in Barcelona, GRAPO claimed responsibility for several terrorist attacks throughout Spain during the past year. These attacks included two failed armored car robberies, one in which two security officers died, and four bombings of political party offices during the 1999-2000 election campaign. In 2002, Spanish authorities were successful in hampering the organization's activities through sweeping arrests, including some of the group's leadership.
Neither ETA nor GRAPO maintains the degree of operational capability once enjoyed. Most members of the groups are either in jail or abroad. ETA in particular remains a serious threat but one that must be kept in perspective. Just as Spain has largely conformed to European norms in political and economic terms a quarter-of-a-century after the death of Franco, so too has it progressed in the area of the safety of its citizens. The overall level of terrorist activity is considerably less than in the past, and the trend appears to be downward.
Al Qaeda has been known to operate cells in Spain, both logistically to support operations in other countries and potentially to mount attacks within Spain itself. Spanish investigative services and the judicial system have aggressively sought to arrest and prosecute their members, with the most notable raid occurring in Barcelona in January 2003. In that effort, Spanish authorities arrested 16 suspected terrorists and seized explosives and other chemicals. Spain also actively cooperates with foreign governments to diminish the transnational terrorist threat.